Chichen Itza

16 Feb

We want to share our day at Chichen Itza and nothing more. There are so many books, articles, and other media to tell you the details. We are not even trying to do that. This is just our limited view and experience.

We arrive from Valladolid in a parking lot crowded with tour buses. It is a hot, hot and humid day. We know that this is not Ek’ Balam when we see the ticket windows and the  turnstiles.  We press forward, camera at the ready. In retrospect, I wish we had taken photos of the tourists streaming into the site and all of the souvenir vendors. But, we were still under the spell of the wonder of visiting Chichen Itza.

And it did have wonderful moments. When we saw the main pyramid El Castillo rising above the flat plain. Nothing can prepare you for the size and the dignity of the structure.

DSC01536The ball court was dramatic. You could feel the crowds and the electricity of the ball players fighting for the ball and the score. Getting a ball through these stone rings would not be easy.




DSC01495Feathered serpent sculptures were found throughout the site open-jawed and menacing.


DSC01509One of the structures that affected me most was a low wall lined by skulls. Skull after skull. What did they represent? Defeated enemies? Sacrificial victims? Bone chilling even in the stifling heat.DSC01507And then…the Temple of 1000 Warriors. This is in a shaded part of Chichen Itza that most tourists don’t visit as it is too far in for a short tour.  The structure is monumental with columns in row after row. The significance of the Mayan civilization is palpable here.


DSC01525But the best, the best, the best is when we came upon a crew replacing a stone. How do you replace a crumbling stone at Chichen Itza?






So what do you do after an experience like this? You have a beer in Piste. We met Juan as we walked out of Chichen Itza. He was some sort of Chichen Itza ambassador and told us we should go to Piste to a second floor bar to have genuine Yucatecan tastes and beer. So we did.  When we first arrived the fancy restaurant downstairs thought were there for them and ushered us in to an empty dining room. But we kept saying “upstairs,” “upstairs” and we finally found the bar…our goal. It was great.

DSC01560Our waiter was sweet. He kept bringing us Yucatecan “snacks” and we kept eating and drinking iced beer. Perfect in the heat. What a great ending to Chichen Itza. The Mayans would have approved.

Souvenirs….Chichen Itza souvenir vendors are plentiful and manage to be intrusive without rising from their folding chairs. They play jungle drums, blow on flutes that roar like jaguars (kids love these) and call out very personally to the individual tourists. Thanks to one cheeky seller I have a new audio file in my brain right next to a bad piece of music from the 80s. As we passed his wares, including clay Mayan calendars, by he called out, “Lookee, lookee Mayan cookie.” The file played intermittently for days after the trip, an inadvertent souvenir of Chichen Itza.




4 Responses to “Chichen Itza”

  1. Bart February 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Great adventures Jill & Dana, safe travels & refreshing wishes from down south!

    • Jill February 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

      Bart: How great to hear from you! How is the family? Are you and David still collaborating. Dana and I think of you and mention you all often. I am still taking Spanish. Am now able to carry on conversations (albeit limited) with people we meet. I must be doing something right because the taxi always brings us to the right house. 🙂 Hope you are all well and thriving. Jill and Dana

  2. Barbara Werren February 16, 2016 at 7:35 am #

    When we were there in 1996 or 7 we could (and did!) climb to the top of the Castillo! Scary! We’ve heard you can’t do that anymore…

    • Jill February 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      No tourists are not allowed to climb El Castillo. We did climb the Acropolis in Ek’ Balam. It was great. Could look out over the site and the jungle. Wonderful.

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